What is a kitchen without a trusted oven? Even if you only use your oven for holidays, this appliance matters. If you roast or bake regularly, then your oven is essential, and so is its performance.
Primary considerations for choosing a new oven include:
- Wall oven or range
- Oven size
- Oven racks
- Single or double oven
- Gas or electric
- Heating method
- Oven doors
- Special Features
Wall Oven or Range
Your kitchen footprint may already dictate the location and size of the oven. If not, you can opt for either a range-type oven that essentially slides into a counter or island space, or, a wall oven.
Ranges offer more cooking space than a single wall oven, and possibly some storage space. However, you must bend down to use them.
Wall ovens are smaller, but can be placed at more convenient heights. Also, the small-size issue can be overcome by choosing a double oven, assuming you have the vertical space.
If you use your oven with any regularity, you probably know what size you would like for the interior of the oven. If you don't know, think about the largest item you might cook, e.g., a turkey in a large roasting pan, and make sure the inside dimensions of the oven can handle it.
Also, consider the maximum depth, width and height of the kitchen space that your oven will fill, so you know with certainty what your size limitations are. This applies equally to wall ovens and ranges.
When you go to look at ovens, check out the racks inside. Make sure they are well-made, and that you can adjust them to suit your needs.
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Single or Double Oven
Double ovens are nothing more than two independently operating units, thus allowing you to cook different dishes, at different temperatures, simultaneously. Think: a turkey in oven #1; pies in oven #2.
Some double ovens also offer multiple cooking methods, so you can bake one dish with traditional heat, while using convection heating in the other. If you have ever been held back in the kitchen by not having enough oven space to get the job done, then perhaps a double oven is for you.
Gas or Electric Oven
Wall ovens are usually electric. Range ovens can be electric or gas. High-end chefs may prefer the immediate temperature control that gas offers, even in an oven. Also, gas ovens can perform some tasks electric ovens cannot, for example, charring. However, most home chefs will probably not notice much of a difference between the two options.
The three major options are: conventional, convection, and combination.
Convection ovens use a fan to distribute heat more effectively, and cook food faster. Convection can be a feature in both gas and electric ovens. Combination ovens combine both traditional and convection options into one unit.
Many foods simply cook faster with convection, but some do not turn out as well, especially baked desserts, so for chefs who want it both ways, the combination oven is a good choice.
Doors with large glass insets can make it easier to check on food without losing heat.
Some ovens now come with side-opening doors or French doors, which can make it easier to access whatever is cooking inside.
Self-cleaning are a bit costlier, but the self-cleaning feature does make life easier. OK, a lot easier. Also, self-cleaning ovens tend to be better insulated, and thus may save a bit on energy costs.
Contemporary ovens often come with special features that you might find useful. These include:
- Digital control panels
- Time controls
- Temperature probes
- High- and low-broil options
- Special cooking settings for specific foods like pizza
- Removable doors
As always, it's smart to think about which of these features will be helpful to the way you use your oven, and which will not. In other words, don't pay more for extras you probably won't use.
Finally, as we recommend in all our buying guides, there's no substitute for seeing first-hand what your choices are, so we strongly recommend visiting a retailer or two during the planning stage. This will help you better understand your choices, and balance available options with budget and space considerations.